WORLD

Syrian military accused of firing on civilians

The violence comes a day after diplomats said the Syrian government agreed to start pulling its forces and will complete its withdrawal by April 10.

Despite a recent promise by the Syrian government to withdraw its forces from population centers, the military pounded opposition-held northern towns and clashed with defectors, activists said Tuesday, according to CNN.The Syrian army shelled Binnish, Taftanaz and Taoum and its helicopters fired on fleeing civilians Tuesday, said the Binnish Coordination Committee, an opposition group.“This is the most intense fighting we have witnessed thus far in Binnish since the beginning of the revolution,” said Basher, an opposition activist. “We haven’t see this much random shelling on Binnish and the surrounding areas. They are using helicopters and randomly firing on civilians in the cities.”Two civilians were killed in crossfire and shelling in Taftanaz, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.Clashes erupted between the military and resistance fighters in the provinces of Daraa, Idlib and the Damascus countryside. A suspected militant group attacked the home of a military official, killing two of his bodyguards in Aleppo, the observatory said.The violence comes a day after diplomats said the Syrian government agreed to start pulling its forces and will complete its withdrawal by April 10.The Syrian foreign minister made that promise to U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, according to Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, said Syria is committed to the success of Annan’s peace plan, which calls for the withdrawal of Syrian and opposition forces.All forward deployment of government forces and use of heavy weapons should be halted as well, Rice said after Annan briefed the Security Council.She said officials were awaiting details from the Syrian government on other aspects of Annan’s six-point peace plan, including requests for humanitarian access, a daily two-hour pause in hostilities and access for the news media.“The Syrian government is committed, but we are expecting Mr. Kofi Annan and some parties in the Security Council also to get the same kind of commitments from the other parties,” Jaafari said. He said those “other parties” were groups “involved in initiating, sponsoring and arming the armed groups.”

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